This news item caught my attention – as it did every citizen’s of this large metropolis – and it continues to haunt me. Here are the facts, as we know them:
- 18 year old brandishes a knife on a streetcar
- Frightened driver calls it in
- Police officers show up, board the car, yell at the youth to drop his knife – he does not
- One officer shoots 3 times
- Five seconds later, he shoots 6 more times
- All of this is captured on video by a bystander
Here is an excerpt from a CTV online news story: Three gunshots are heard, followed by six more gunshots about five seconds later. Then a Taser is deployed. No other passengers were on the vehicle at the time of the shooting.
These questions come to mind:
- How much of a threat was one youth with a small knife? And what is his story (mental illness, drug impairment, delusional youthful swagger?)
- Why did 10 police officers show up – was there nothing more criminal going on in a city of 2.5 million people
- Why shoot to kill – one kid with a knife – instead of incapacitating him
- 3 shots then 6 more – why the overkill?
- How much of a bearing does the officer’s home life have on his actions (he and his wife have a 6-month-old baby)
The youth was buried and continues to be mourned by family and friends. Here’s quote from CTV online: “I haven’t heard one single word from the mouth of the parents or the sister that expresses rage or revenge against the police officer who did the shooting,” Issa said. “We have not come to seek revenge.”
The officer is on paid suspension and legal action is pending. But troubled thoughts continue to swirl. I am left wondering, as I often have:
- How do police officers in England – who do not carry guns – manage to apprehend criminals and solve crimes?
- Are the U.S. and Canada too dependent on weapons and less on reasoning and interpersonal communication skills? Shoot first ask questions later?
- What are the answers…?
This does indeed seem like overkill. If every knife-carrying teenager was shot here there would be a lot of deaths. Knife culture is a worry but I would be much more worried about gun-toting police if that was the alternative. Armed response teams may show up at a potential crime scene if there is evidence to suggest that the ‘criminals’ are armed and dangerous. To the best of my knowledge. But, carrying a gun must, perforce, suggest the increased possibility of such an occurrence.
I know that ‘the right to bear arms’ for citizens is an antagonistic subject in some quarters and, if people have that right, then I suppose it should be expected that so will the police.
That opens up the much wider argument. I share your concerns but I do not envy the status quo that exists in your country. x